Rafael Nadal was a player to beat in 2019, going on a great run at all four Majors and lifting trophies in Paris and New York. Rafa claimed his 19th Major crown at the US Open, moving one behind Roger Federer for the first time in his career.
Nadal’s first tournament after the US Open came at the Laver Cup in Geneva. Rafa did not play in the second edition of the Laver Cup in 2018 and returned a year later. Federer prevailed over Kyrgios on day two, with Nadal stepping onto the court next against Milos Raonic.
Rafa beat Milos 6-3, 7-6 after braving two hours and seven minutes to propel Team Europe 7-3 heading into the final day. It was their first meeting since the 2017 Australian Open, and they both gave it their all to cross the finish line first.
Rafa fended off eight of nine break points, eight in the first set alone.
Rafael Nadal defeated Milos Raonic in the 2019 Laver Cup.
He stole the opponent’s serve three times and delivered victory number 48 of the season.
Despite injuries and setbacks that ruined his season, Milos fought at a high level in this one. He fired 13 aces, but his second serve let him down, allowing Nadal to take his chances and end up on the losing end. The Spaniard prevailed on crucial points to seal the deal ahead of the match’s deciding tie-break, setting himself up for another doubles match later that night.
Milos had numerous chances to carve out the lead in the first set, wasting no less than eight chances in games two, four and six! Nadal kept his cool and defended them to keep his serve intact and take the pressure off himself.
The Canadian had to pay the price for those missed opportunities, and the Spaniard broke him at 3-3 with a backhand down the line winner. With momentum on his side, Nadal broke again in game nine after a loose volley from Raonic to close the first set 6-3 after 55 minutes, hoping for a more relaxed set number two.
Instead, Milos raised his level and got a break at 2-2. However, Raonic remained in front for only a couple of minutes. Nadal recovered the break with a well-constructed attack and a volley winner to close the result at 3-3.
They served well in the remaining six games to set up a tiebreaker, one that Raonic must win. Nadal had the leading role and scored three mini-breaks to make the difference. The Spaniard clinched it 7-1 to seal the deal and send Team Europe 7-3 in front going into the last five meetings.